Cutler's first appearance with Bears not the only personnel news
The Bears unveiled a new safety to go with their new strong-armed quarterback Wednesday on their first of 14 days of organized team activies (OTAs) at Halas Hall.
While most eyes were on Jay Cutler, third-year cornerback Corey Graham also made news by lining up as the second-team free safety. Chicago is five deep at corner with Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Graham, Trumaine McBride and fourth-round pick D.J. Moore, but has a hole at free safety after letting Mike Brown go and not taking any free safeties in the draft.
Coaches surprised Graham with the news a week ago.
“When you think you are going to compete at corner, it’s a bit of a surprise,” Graham said. “But if it’s a way for me to play, it’s exactly what I want to do.”
Graham started nine games at corner last year, including the final five when Vasher was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury. His size (6-feet, 193 pounds) and tackling (93 tackles, fifth on the team last year) make him a natural option to consider at safety.
“Maybe, but it’s a lot different type of tacking when you are in the middle of the field,” Graham said. “You ain’t got no sideline to help you out when you’re at free safety. But I like to tackle, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to adapt.”
Graham said he doesn’t know if the move is permanent or an experiment.
“I can always go back to corner,” he said. “You don’t forget how to be a corner, so I will continue to work on my corner skills, too.”
Cutler’s first official workout with the Bears drew a regular-season sized media crowd to OTAs.
“He brings a lot more buzz to the team,” receiver Rashied Davis said. “I’m excited. Everybody is excited.”
Cutler, a 26-year-old Pro Bowler who threw for 4,526 yards for Denver last year, wowed everyone with how hard and accurately he threw.
“His arm strength is rare,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said.
Cutler has been unofficially throwing to Chicago receivers for weeks, yet they are still getting used to his fastball.
“You have to get used to catching a ball that comes that hard,” Davis said. “It’s on you real quick. Sometimes you can hear it coming. You better get your head around. The heat is still on the ball 20 yards down the field.”
Cutler may throw fast, but he’s moving slow as a leader, spending as much time on and off the field with his new teammates as he can, but deferring to linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and center Olin Kreutz.
“This is a defensive and run team with Brian and Lance and Olin,” Cutler said. “You can’t rush things like (leadership). You take things in stride and get guys to trust you. Hopefully, by Game 1 they’ll all be behind me.”
They already trust his talent. Turner was asked if adding Cutler to a team that has never had a 4,000-yard passer brings more pressure to Chicago’s offensive coaches.
“If there is, I’ll take it,” Turner said. “I’ll take that kind of pressure to have a player like this. Jay brings it to a different level.”
NOTES: Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie threw two interceptions Wednesday, one to linebacker Jamar Williams and one to undrafted rookie free agent Woodny Turenne. … Turenne stepped in front of third-round draft pick Juaquin Iglesias for the fingertip pick along the sidelines and returned it for a touchdown. Turenne later batted down a sideline pass by third-stringer Brett Basanez.
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 email@example.com.